An Open and Shut Case!

By Dr. Lloyd Blewett, Samuel Heath, Birmingham, England

I have written here before about how proud we at Samuel Heath are to partner with KLAFFS across the breadth of our product collections. The connections between the two companies are exceptional and we have enjoyed an exclusive partnership in the North-Eastern United States for three decades now. Over this time Samuel Heath has continued to build a worldwide reputation for stylish design, quality and performance as a manufacturer of bathroom accessories, faucets and showers.

Perhaps slightly less well known is that Samuel Heath is also an important manufacturer of high quality door and window hardware, including internal door knobs, cabinet knobs and levers. I am pleased to say that these items are also extensively offered by KLAFFS as part of our longstanding relationship.

The choice and specification of door and window hardware can be complex for interior designers and architects, as well as for homeowners. My intention is that this article will address some issues that will help you to make  better-informed hardware selections.

Aesthetics, Authentic Design and Provenance

Aesthetics are, of course, a prime factor when seeking to ensure that door and window hardware enhances the finished project.  So, a good starting point is to consider the period or style of building that the hardware will be reflecting. Before we consider this further however, I would like to say a few words first about provenance and why I think it matters when selecting door and window hardware.

It was in 1820 that Samuel Heath first began to manufacture the finest pieces of solid brassware from its premises in Birmingham, England. The company began as a traditional brass founder and over its history has produced a vast array of products from bedsteads to high quality giftware and fireside accessories.

It is craftsmanship that has remained central to the Samuel Heath ethos over nearly two hundred years. Yet, over time, the company has adopted technological advances that contribute to product quality. Each piece is meticulously formed from the purest Northern European solid brass, which is polished by hand to create a flawless finish.

The products then undergo a high-tech electroplating process. Attention to detail dictates that each product is then assembled, checked and packed by skilled individuals – underscoring the importance of the human touch. All of these processes take place at the company’s Birmingham factory ensuring total control over manufacturing, quality and environmental responsibility.

With its multi-century heritage as a producer of fine brass products, Samuel Heath is also a pioneer of new movements in door and window hardware design. The company invests in state of the art technology and the brightest design talent while adhering to time-honored British craftsmanship.

A diverse range of lustrous finishes

This emphasis on design brings me back to the discussion of hardware style.  The latest edition of Samuel Heath’s door and window catalog includes new door hardware designed to complement our signature collections, Profile and Contour. Alongside new stepped and channeled square and rectangular backplates there are four new additions which, like the company’s distinctive bathroom collections, take inspiration from key influential design periods each with a new character and aesthetic.

Redolent of the Arts & Crafts movement, which was an extremely influential design period in England, as well as in the U.S., the flowing organic shape of the Domed Door Knob (P8060) endows the fixture with a traditional grandeur, embodying the rich heritage that Samuel Heath is founded on. The domed ergonomic design ensures that the finished product is both tactile and visually beautiful.

A classic and timeless design imbued with a distinctly metropolitan feel, the Classic Door Knob (P8061) perfectly captures the luxuriousness of the Art Deco period. The fitting is unembellished: precise concentric channeling and subtle recesses give the product an understated elegance. The Stepped Door Knob (P8062) has a distinctly Art Nouveau inspired style with a stepped face and curvilinear spindle redolent of the organic motifs and natural shapes associated with the aesthetic of early 20th century design. Featuring a minimalist form, the Contemporary Door Knob (P8065) is a faithful demonstration of the sleek and modern design philosophy that made Bauhaus one of the most influential contemporary design trends.

Getting the correct door and window hardware for a building thus involves aesthetic as well as functional considerations and this applies across a diverse range of building types.

Door knobs being plated at Samuel Heath’s factory, Birmingham England

Other Considerations when Choosing Door and Window Hardware

Manufacturing door and window hardware from solid brass brings many advantages which I have covered in a previous article. It is the exciting plated finishes that we have developed over recent years, however, that have brought so much more choice and excitement to the specification of door and window hardware. At Samuel Heath we stock nine lustrous finishes, including polished nickel and non-lacquered brass, with further finishes on demand.

This is important because it enables our door and window hardware to augment both classic and contemporary finishes. Equally important is the ability to exactly match the finish of Samuel Heath door and window hardware to our bathroom accessories, faucets and showers.

These finishes are, in part, the result of Samuel Heath’s technology investment. The plating process involves multiple individual operations. These include various washing and rinsing stages in between the three-part electroplating process. Computer-controlled equipment predetermines how long each jig full of parts stays in each solution. This build-up of layers ensures good adhesion.

However, the hand crafting that underlies this process is at least as important a contribution to ultimate product quality. The high gloss polishing process involves starting with a coarse polishing cloth and going through several grades of cloth

reducing to a fine polish to achieve the high gloss finish. The quality of the surface finish is crucial to achieving a plating process that results in long product life, as well as beauty.

And finally….

The hardware for doors and windows is a key component of any project.  The right choices will enhance the visual impact of a home, or indeed any other type of building together with its functionality, accessibility and longevity.

Getting the right door and window hardware in the right location will enhance a user’s experience of a building. It is the most tactile aspect of a building and one that people will come into contact with on a constant basis. Durability and longevity are also considerations with items such as door knobs and levers in almost constant use.

Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of choosing a reliable and well- informed dealer when choosing door and window hardware. We at Samuel Heath are committed to maintaining our quality, our values and our relationships with retail partners like KLAFFS who help consumers understand the things that matter in their home improvement decisions.

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